Tatyana Shvetsova


      Map:     The Penguin Atlas of World History / 1995







In 1918 a Civil war broke out in Russia following the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917. Historian Leonid Katzva mentions the following reasons for the Civil war in this country:

The confiscation of property of landowners, banks, industrial and trade enterprises inevitably sparked an armed resistance on the part of the landowners and bourgeoisie, seeking to regain their own at any cost. 

32_CivilWarAttackRepressions against the press and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly forced a major part of the intelligentsia to join the camp of intractable enemies of Soviet power. The policy regarding the food produce, likewise, forced a predominant part of the peasant folk and the Cossacks to join the ranks of the rabid anti-bolshevists.

Anti-bolshevist forces received considerable support on the part of the foreign states, incensed at the confiscation of their foreign property in Russia and the Bolsheviks’ refusal to pay up Russia’s debts.

In the words of historian Pyotr Deinichenko, “The first salvos of Civil war resounded as early as in December 1917, when Ataman Alexei Kaledin introduced martial law on the territory of the Don army. The Bolsheviks, who had seized power in Rostov-on-the-Don, demanded that Kaledin renounce authority. In response, the Ataman launched military action, and on December 15th his troops, as a result of a spate of heavy fighting, secured Rostov. Around that time they began forming a Volunteer Army on the Don under command of General Kornilov.


32_ChapayevKornilov’s political program presupposed setting up a “powerful temporary supreme power comprising people with state vision”, which would reinstate private property, curb the impulsive division of land, and in the future – elect a new Constituent Assembly. There was no mention of a return to monarchy.”

In the winter of 1918 the Bolsheviks found themselves in a dire situation. As Pyotr Deinichenko notes, “the country hadn’t yet surfaced from the mire of [First World] war. The threat of occupation still loomed large… This spelled an end to the revolution. The German powers would never tolerate the Bolsheviks. And the revolution in Germany, which the Bolsheviks laid such store by, dragged its feet. So it was imperative to put an end to the war. Peace talks with states of the German-Austrian alliance began already on November 20th 1917. And in December Brest played host to an actual Peace Conference. Still, Germany played for time. It didn’t believe the Bolsheviks would last that long. Only after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly did Germany finally come to appreciate the Soviet government as a force to be reckoned with. While Russia was in desperate need of peace, since the army had lost all combativity.”32_Red%20Army

Vladimir Lenin’s curt instructions to the participants of the delegation at the negotiations demanded that peace be signed at any cost. The beginning of talks was marred by the suicide of one of the military consultants of the Soviet delegation, Colonel Vladimir Skalon. In a suicide note addressed to his wife he wrote:

“…I cannot continue to live and be a witness to Russia’s disgrace, and even greater disgrace that awaits her in the nearest future, so I choose to take leave of this life.”

Negotiations with the German side were conducted by a delegation of Bolsheviks. Historian Oleg Platonov insists that part of them (to be exact, Leon Trotsky, Adolph Yoffe and Lev Karahan) were directly involved with German intelligence. 

“Traitors within the ranks of the delegation acted out a real farce regarding the negotiations, the result of which was a one-sided document  - Russia’s avouchment to withdraw from the military action and demobilize its army,” Oleg Platonov writes.

32_TrotskyThis document, which Leon Trotsky referred to as ‘neither war, nor peace’, specifically said:

“In the name of the People’s Commissars the Government of the Russian Federative Republic hereby informs all governments and peoples warring against us, as well as allied and neutral states, that by refusing to sign the annexationist treaty, Russia, for its part, declares an end to the state of war with Germany, Austro-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. Russian troops are ordered complete demobilization along the entire frontline.”

This document was a veritable gift for the German alliance. Thanks to it, the German forces dislocated at the Russian border faced no hindrance at all – they were free to seize any Russian territory they saw fit. 

“This was how  the Bolsheviks footed the bill for the money received from the German headquarters in 1913 – 1917, simultaneously washing their hands of the consequences of the situation they’d provoked, since they hadn’t signed the ‘annexationist treaty’,” Oleg Platonov goes on to write. “As a result of all this the defenseless Russian land was immediately overrun with voracious German hordes. There began an all-out plundering of occupied territories.”

Eventually, in March 1918 the Brest peace treaty was signed, but on the most relentless terms for this country. Besides,32_BrestGermany had seized part of the Russian lands quite unconditionally. Over 1 million square kilometers of European territory of the Russian state with a population of around 50 million – a third of the country’s population – found themselves occupied by Germany. This territory yielded 90% of the overall coal and 73% of the iron ore production in the country. Over half of all the industrial enterprises and a third of the railways were also situated there. Russia’s European territory now approached the 16th century borders. The results of efforts of dozens of generations of Russian people were disposed of without a backward glance. 

As if this was not enough, Russia vowed to pay a 3 billion contribution in bread, ore and other raw material, besides handing over to Germany almost two hundred and a half  thousand kilos of gold. 

Oleg Platonov insists that in order to maintain a hold on their power, the Bolsheviks were prepared to hand all of historical Russian territory over to the Germans. That German occupation would bring suffering to so many people of this country was the least of their concerns. The historian writes that in the case of a German advance in the spring-summer of 1918 Lenin planned to give them the territory flush up to the Urals. Lenin said to Leon Trotsky:

“We shall retreat further eastwards, set up a Urals-Kuznetsk republic, drawing on the industry of the Urals and Kuznetsk basin coal, the Urals proletariat and that part of the Moscow and Petrograd workers that we shall manage to led with us. We shall hang on. If needs be, we can move further to the East, beyond the Urals. Even if we have to go as far as Kamchatka, we shall not give up. The international situation is changeable, and from the borders of the Urals-Kuznetsk republic we shall once again expand, returning victorious to Moscow and Petrograd…”

The Russian Orthodox Church denounced the Brest peace accords, discerning in them a means of undermining the Russian Orthodox state and splitting the Russian people. Patriarch Tikhon (Belavin) addressed the parish with a message, where it was said in part:

“Blessed is peace amongst peoples, for we are all brothers, and the Lord summons us all to work peacefully on Earth; He has equally bestowed on us all his innumerable gifts… The long-suffering Russian people, entrapped in a bloody fratricidal war, desperately long for peace. However, is this the peace our Church prays for, and that the people crave?.. A peace according to which intrinsically Orthodox Ukraine is separated from fraternal Russia, and the glorious city of Kiev, the Mother of all Russian towns, the cradle of our Christianity, a vessel of holy sanctity, ceases to be a city of the Russian Empire…

The Holy Orthodox Church, that at all times aided the Russian people ingathering together and  grandifying the Russian state, cannot look on indifferently as it is plundered and destroyed… This peace, signed in the name of the Russian people, will not help bring about fraternal coexistence of peoples… It contains the insidious germs of future wars and evils for all of humanity.”

According to Oleg Platonov, the Germans continued to channel financial assistance to the Bolsheviks even after the Brest peace accords. Doubting the tenacity of Soviet power, and fearful lest its collapse plunge Russia back into war against Germany, the German special services insistently demanded from their government more money for the Bolsheviks. Thus, on May 18th 1918 the head of the German Foreign Ministry sends out instructions to the effect that all possible support be extended to the Bolsheviks, so that they survive in power. He telegraphed the German embassy in Moscow:

“Please use large sums, since it is in our vested interests that the Bolsheviks survive. The Ritzler Funds are at your disposal. Should you need more, do not hesitate to let us know how much… As much as it is possible we need to prevent the consolidation of Russia, and for this purpose we must support the ultra-leftist parties.”

The Bolshevist coup and close cooperation of the Bolshevik regime with Germany sharply enhanced the peculiarities of the German occupationist policy, which originally started taking shape in the years of World War I. It was directed towards an artificial fanning of local separatist movements and the eventual partition of Russia. There were special secret service units operational within the German Staff Headquarters, whose job was to train activist leaders of various nationalistic movements – in the Baltics, Ukraine, Byelorussia. The chief task of these secret services was to set up marionette governments, through which the German authorities intended to govern the occupied territories. With nothing but contempt for the ‘puppet’ regimes of their own doing, German officials nonetheless continued to pump significant financial means towards their upkeep, providing them with diverse maps, training manuals, study books, pamphlets, sabotage equipment and money for personal means. 

Pursuing the aim of dissecting Russia, the German Foreign ministry sent their peace negotiators with Russia the following memo on May 7th 1917:

“In order to avoid the word ‘annexation’ in negotiations with Russia, and the equally distasteful to them expression ‘correction of the borders’, its would be advisable to ‘guild the pill’ of disclaiming Kurland and Lithuania for the Russians, turning these into allegedly independent states, which shall be granted internal autonomy and their own government, yet in military, political and economic respects will be under our complete control”.

Prior to WWI no state ever disputed the legality of the Baltics being a part of the Russian Empire. Historian Oleg Platonov claims that, “the marionette ‘states’ and ‘governments’ of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were drafted by several officials at the German Staff headquarters…

In December 1917, under dictation from Berlin, the so-called “Lithuanian council” – “Tariba” – proclaimed ‘eternal, consolidated ties’ with Germany. And in June 1918 Germany took a decision to proclaim Lithuania a monarchy, offering the crown to Wuerttemberg Herzog Wilhelm von Urakh. Puppet monarchies were in the offing for Latvia and Estonia, too. The Baltic barons were foisting on the local population there notions of ‘a Baltic duchy’, linked through personal union with Prussia. As German General Erich Ludendorf later admitted, Germany sought to ‘unite the Estonians and Latvians, brought up on German culture, into one state, which would be governed by the Germans…”

Oleg Platonov stresses that “…new ‘state’ structures were of a purely nominal character. They were the direct result of German expansion and at the time received no recognition on the part of the European states. To acknowledge at the time the legality of the setting up of these states would have been equal to recognizing the legality of Germany’s occupationist policy.

A similar manifestation of Germany’s unlawful occupationist policy was the setting up of the so-called “Ukrainian statehood” under the name of ‘Central Rada’ (or, in Russian, Central Council). This state structure was set up by several socialist parties and organizations headed by freemason Mikhail Grushevsky – who served with the Austro-Hungarian intelligence. In October 1917 the Central Rada almost simultaneously with the Bolshevist coup seized power in Kiev with the help of unlawful military units funded by Germany. Kiev proclaimed a “Ukrainian People’s Republic”, initially within the fold of Russia, and as of January 1918 - an independent state. This state stole away from Russia a part of the southern lands – the so-called NovoRossiya.”

In April 1918 German forces occupied the Crimea. Ukrainian ribald groups participated in the occupation of the peninsula. They were the first to enter Crimea’s central town – Simferopol – unleashing a wave of pillaging and marauding. However, Berlin rejected all aspersions of the Ukrainian separatists to claim the Crimea as their own. In Berlin they were more inclined to set up a German colonial state in the Crimea, with the German colonists as its mainstay.

On June 13th 1918 General Kraus reported to Vienna that the Germans ‘intended to retain the Crimea for themselves, as a colony or in some other such form. They would never let the priceless Crimean Peninsula slip out of their grasp.”

As a result of Germany’s occupation of Georgia on May 26th 1918 the so-called ‘independent Georgia’ emerged. In actual fact, this was a German colonial territory, governed from Berlin. Thus, it was planned to establish a puppet monarchy in Georgia, and coronate for the purpose either one of the descendants of the Georgian Kings, or some German Duke.

And these were just several examples of Germany’s occupationist policy.

Such was the price of the Brest peace accords, signed by the Bolsheviks, for the peoples of the former Russian Empire…

Leon Trotsky’s followers hoped that the German aggression against the Soviet Russia would spur on a proletarian revolution in Germany. However, the German proletariat was in no haste to demonstrate class solidarity. While Germany advanced steadily… The Bolsheviks were forced to speedily set up their own armed forces.

The decree of the Soviet of People’s Commissars “On the formation of a Red Army of Workers and Peasants” said:

“The old army served as an instrument of class persecution of the laborers by the bourgeoisie. With the transfer of power to the workers and the exploited classes there emerged a need to create a new army, that would become the bulwark of Soviet power in the present, and a foundation for substituting a regular army with a ‘citizens-in-arms’ in the near future, serving to provide support for the looming socialist revolution in Europe.”

As historian Pyotr Deinichenko notes, “The Decree on the formation of the Red Army of Workers and Peasants was already signed in January 1918. Leon Trotsky was personally involved in its creation. The numerical strength and training of the troops, put together from workers’ volunteers and Red Guard units, was certainly not adequate to put up any resistance worth speaking of to the advancing German war machine. Still, on February 23rd 1918 detachments of the Red Army succeeded in cutting short the advance of the enemy on the approaches to Narva and Pskov. However, it was clear they would not survive a second onslaught. So Lenin’s government looked favorably on the 2,000-strong English landing party in Murmansk that was to fend off the planned German assault. The threat looming over Petrograd was quite real. And on the 12th of March 1918 the political leadership of Soviet Russia moved to Moscow. Petrograd was no longer the capital.”

Early in April, under the pretext of fighting the Bolsheviks, who had gone back on their obligations as allies, 70 thousand Japanese and 7500 Americans landed in the Russian Far East. There was no frontline there. Japan, in actual fact, was pursuing its own interests. However, this didn’t tally with the plans the USA nurtured regarding Russia, so they sought to impede the Japanese. 

Besides heightened activity of the foreign intervention, the Bolshevik’s enemies inside Russia were not idle, either. A 50-thousand – strong Czechoslovak legion of war prisoners, dislocated in echelon along the entire Transsiberian artery, passed over to their side. This is what a newspaper of the Novosibirsk regional government “Vedomosti” wrote in 2003 about the history of this military formation:

“Until 1918 Czechia and Slovakia were a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and experienced national oppression. This is what forced them to lay their hopes at Russia’s door. In Czechia there was a popular saying “Freedom will come when the Russian Cossack horse will quench its thirst from the waters of the Vltava river.” (Vltava is a legendary river on which the capital of Czechia – Prague - was built). 

During the First World War (Under the Czarist government in Russia) the Czechs and the Slovaks willingly surrendered into Russian captivity, at times in whole regiments. They were the backbone of the 50,000-strong Czechoslovak legion, set up to war against Austria (on the side of Entente).

According to the Brest Accords, signed between the Bolsheviks and Germany, the Czechoslovak legion was to be disbanded. Those of the Czechs and Slovaks who refused to disarm were threatened with execution. The legionnaires refused to obey and decided to forcefully make their way East. Entente expressed support for the rebellious Czechoslovak Legion, announcing that it was the advance-guard of the allied army. 

The Legion joined sides with the “White” movement in Russia.






The revolt of the Czechoslovak legionnaires stoked up anti-bolshevist forces in those regions of Russia, where they had their echelons – in other words, across the entire Transsiberian road – from regions in Central Russia to the Far-Eastern city of Vladivostok.

There were counterrevolutionary revolts in a number of regions along the Volga. The Cossacks of the Urals rose up against the Bolsheviks. In July 1918 in Moscow, and then in the Volga town of Yaroslavl, there were revolts organized by the leftist socialists-revolutionaries.

The Bolsheviks were successful in putting down some of the rebellions. However, across a broad expanse of territory from along the Volga to Siberia, in the Northern areas of the country and the Transcaucasus their power was overthrown, and governments of the democratic counterrevolution installed. 

These governments consisted of constitutional democrats, socialists-revolutionaries, and Mensheviks, who were in favor of a democratic renewal of Russia, called for convening the Constituent Assembly, the ousting of the Bolsheviks and a struggle against the ultra-right monarchists.

In the Northern Russian towns of Murmansk and Archangelsk, with the help of Anglo-American forces, a so-called government of the Northern region was established, headed by prominent Russian socialist Nikolai Tchaikovsky.

According to historian Pyotr Deinichenko, “From that moment the armed standoff between sympathizers and opponents of Soviet power evolved into a full-scale civil war.

In these conditions the Bolsheviks were forced to reject the voluntary principle of their revolutionary armed forces and announced total mobilization into the Red Army.

Many officers of the Czarist army, particularly those who had served their way upwards from the lowest ranks, took up service with the Red Army. It wasn’t fear of possible reprisals alone that motivated their actions. Many professional army men saw this as an opportunity for a revival of the army, a chance to counter the military intervention and the dissolution of Russia

The army was built on the principles of severe discipline. There were no Soldiers’ committees any longer, but instead there emerged ‘communist units’ and commissar-Bolsheviks.

The soldiers were guaranteed a food ration and benefits. As for the deserters (and their families) – the new authorities had no qualms about executing them on the spot.”

Fearful lest the monarchists in the ‘White Guards’ midst release the Czar’s family, the Bolsheviks rushed to execute the royal family which was in the Urals. All the more so since the monarchic inclinations of a major part of the Russian people, particularly the peasants, were still strong, just as prior to the revolution. Many peasants hoped and believed that the Czar would soon return to power, life would get back on track and everything would return to normal.

While the Russian Czar was alive, as a Supreme leader of the nation, a symbol of Russia’s unity, the Bolsheviks could not be certain of their own power and the efficiency of their measures to destroy and dismember Russia.

Later, Leon Trotsky admitted in his recollections that the Bolsheviks particularly feared the “White” movement would announce a return of the Czar and resurrection of Czarist rule, for they were convinced this would spell a collapse of the Soviet regime. 

The decision to execute the royal family belonged to Vladimir Lenin and was supported by practically all members of the bolshevist leadership.

As to how the Czar’s family was murdered, historian Oleg Platonov writes the following: 

“The first victim of the bolshevist plan to destroy the Czar’s family was the Czar’s brother – Grand Prince Mikhail Alexandrovich. On the night from the 11th to the 12th of June 1918 a group of members of the VCheka (The Extraordinary Commission for fighting counterrevolution and sabotage) aided by soviet militia units, took the Grand Prince and his personal secretary away to a distant location outside Perm. Here they were both killed, buried, and their personal effects shared amongst the executioners. Although the entire action was carried out by representatives of Soviet power, it was officially announced the Grand Prince had fled in unknown direction.”

According to historian Oleg Platonov, Yakov Sverdlov personally oversaw all preparations for the execution of the royal family:

“Through an old-time associate dating to the terrorist activities of 1905 – 1907 Shaya Goloshekin, Sverdlov chose the man to do the actual killing of the Czar. It was Yankel Yurovsky, grandson of a Rabbi. Yurovsky was an individual totally devoid of morals, with a manifest sadistical streak. He was notorious for monstrous punitive actions against Russian people incarcerated within the VCheka. Together with Shaya Goloshekin, Yankel Yurovsky was a Presidium member of the Urals Soviet. A special headquarters was set up for executing the plan, with the above-mentioned individuals joined by bolshevist terrorist old-timers.

Initially it was planned to kill the Czar allegedly during his attempt to escape. A false letter was specially written allegedly from the officers attempting to save him, and handed over to the Czar. Yet, the latter did not fall for the bait and so his enemies had only one option left – direct murder.

On July 16th 1918 a telegram arrived in Yekaterinburg where the royal family was kept in custody from Moscow, written in code. It contained orders to “execute the Romanovs”.

The evening of that same day Shaya Goloshekin, who oversaw the crime, gave Yankel Yurovsky the direct order to kill the royal family. Yurovsky had already prepared everything. There were two spots arranged for the bodies to be hidden. 

One of the participants of the crime, guard Andrei Strekotin later recalled:

“All the arrested were dressed in clean, festive vestments. The Czar carried his son in his arms… The youngest, Anastasia, is carrying a small lap dog in her arms; the ex-Empress is striding arm in arm with her eldest daughter – Olga… When the arrested were led into the room, a group of people followed them inside. I left my post and walked after them. They and I stopped on the threshold of the room, which the arrested had just been led into.

With a curt movement of the arm Yurovsky motions where the arrested should stand, saying in a quiet voice: “Please, you stand here, and you – over here, like this, in a row.”

The arrested stood in two rows: the royal family in the first, their servants in the second. The heir sat on a chair.

The Czar stood on the right flank. One of the lackeys stood behind him. Yurovsky stood facing the Czar, his right hand in his trouser pocket. In his left hand he held a small piece of paper. Then he read out the sentence…

He had hardly read the last words, when the Czar loudly interrupted: “What? I do not understand. Please read it again.” Yurovsky read it over again. On the last word he instantaneously brought out his revolver and shot pointblank at the Czar. Several voices cried out: "Oh!" The Czarina and her daughter Olga tried to cross themselves, but it was too late.

Simultaneously with Yurovsky's shot there rang out shots made by a group of people specially summoned for the purpose. The Czar didn't survive the sole bullet released from the revolver and collapsed on the spot. The other ten people also fell to the ground. Several more shots were fired at them just in case. The smoky haze shut out the electric light and made breathing difficult. The firing ceased and the windows were thrown open to let in some air.

Stretchers were carried in and they began laying the corpses onto them. The body of the Czar was the first to be carried out. The corpses were piled into a truck, standing in the yard. When they were placing one of the daughters into the truck, she cried out and covered her face with her arm. Some of the others also turned out to be alive. They could no longer fire since through the open doors the shots would be heard out in the street. According to comrades from the group, even the first shots were heard on all inside and outside guard posts. Yermakov took my rifle with bayonet and slaughtered all those who were yet alive...”

After murdering the entire royal family, the Bolsheviks actually announced the fact only several days later, stating that “the former Czar had been executed”. They consciously and purposefully disseminated the falsehood that he remaining members of the royal family were alive and in a safe place.

On the following day after the death of the Czar's family the bolshevist leaders demanded that other members of the house of Romanov be killed, too. They were also being detained in the Urals, in Alapaevsk. After beating them up, they threw these people down a 60-metere mine shaft, following this up with a batch of hand grenades and then covering the opening up with logs and boulders. However, the agony of the martyrs continued for several days. Local residents testify to having heard muted prayers and singing coming from the mine. Having killed the Czar's relatives, the Bolsheviks lied to the world that these relatives had, allegedly, escaped from Russia on a plane.

Voicing the opinion of the supreme leadership of the Bolsheviks, Leon Trotsky wrote in his “Diary”:

“...The execution of the royal family was imperative not simply to instill fear, to shock, deprive the enemy of all hope, but also to shake up our own ranks, to show that what lay ahead was either total victory or total ruin.”

The Russian Orthodox Church responded to the murder of the royal family by condemning the criminal regime. Addressing the Russian people Holy Patriarch Tikhon said:

“...recently a terrible crime was committed: former Czar Nikolai Alexandrovich was executed... We must, in line with the teachings of the Holy Writ, condemn this action, otherwise the blood of the victim will fall on us, too, besides those who committed it... Let them brand us counterrevolutionaries for this, let them incarcerate us, execute us... We are prepared to take all this, in the conviction that the words of our Savior: "Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and who are faithful to it" shall also be referred to us.

Here is the opinion of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, expressed by Archbishop of Syracuse and Troitsk Averkiy (Taushev). According to him, the slaughter of the royal family was imbued with mystical purport:

“It was planned and carried out by none other than servants of the coming antichrist - those, who sold their soul to the devil, who are preparing for the speedy enthronement of Christ's enemy - the antichrist. They were perfectly aware that the sole obstacle in their path was Orthodox Czarist Russia. So it was imperative to destroy Orthodox Russia, replacing it with a godless, atheist state which would gradually spread its tentacles of power all over the world. In order to achieve a speedy and unfailing destruction of Russia they needed to destroy the one who was its living symbol - the Orthodox Czar...”


Copyright © 2006 The Voice of Russia

Originally published at        http://www.vor.ru/English/homeland/home_031.html     01/16/2006


Illustrations: “Russia. A Complete Encyclopaedic Guide.” Moscow, OLMA-PRESS, 2002







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